Continuing the seizure of red sanders, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Mumbai on Wednesday seized 45 tonnes (45,000 kg) of the wood worth Rs11.25 crore from a warehouse in Kolhapur.
The agency had on Saturday seized 200 tonnes (2 lakh kg) of the wood, worth Rs50 crore and arrested 5 persons, including the kingpin of the syndicate.
The agency had also seized more than Rs16 crore cash along with eight cars, including a Ferrari. DRI officials said that following interrogation of the accused, they raided the Kolhapur-based warehouse, which was used by them and found red sanders during their raid. “We also found guava pulp and towels that were shown as genuine export material to the Central Excise officials. Once they were sealed, they were subsequently replaced by red sanders at the Kolhapur warehouse,” a DRI official said.
Using his Dubai contacts, the kingpin of the syndicate Ajit Satam used to place orders for export of miscellaneous cargo such as guava pulp, plastic items and textiles, among others stuff.
The export containers were generally factory-stuffed (stuffed in the presence of Central Excise officials in the factory itself) and sealed under their supervision as well, following which they were transported by Satam’s trailers. The containers were diverted on the way to safe warehouses where the cargo used to be substituted by red sanders by breaking the Central Excise seal and replaced with a duplicate seal of the same serial number.
The factory-stuffed containers are not checked by the customs at ports unless there is some specific information.
The officials said that the Kolhapur warehouse was the main operating area of the gang.
“The red sanders was brought from Cuddapah in Rayalaseema region by road to Kolhapur warehouse where it was replaced in the container carrying genuine export goods,” the official said.
The DRI suspects that the syndicate was planning to smuggle 600 containers of red sanders in the near future.